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Sunburn by Laura Lippman – a review BLOG TOUR

sunburnI was lucky enough to meet Laura Lippman at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival a couple of year’s ago and have always been a fan of her books. Therefore I jumped at the chance to be the final stop on the blog tour for her latest novel Sunburn.

Polly is on a family holiday to the beach when she walks off leaving behind her husband and daughter. She lands in a small town in Delaware and gets a job at the High Ho restaurant. She is soon joined by the mysterious Adam who gets a job as a cook. Whilst he is obviously following Polly for some reason, it is soon clear that he also has secrets. As they both become more drawn into each other’s worlds the lines between truth and lies get more blurred.

This was a really intriguing story. Whilst it wasn’t one you’d class as fast paced, it felt almost hypnotic in it’s telling. It has been likened to some of the classic noir tales such as those by James M. Cain and that is a great comparison. It starts off as a relatively simple premise, we are lead to believe that Polly is the kind of woman who can leave her child behind and therefore is uncaring. Yet as the story flows you realise that things are not as black and white as they seem. Adam could be Polly’s hero turning up just when she needs someone. Yet there is more to him than meets the eye and it soon becomes clear he is not necessarily the person we are first led to believe.

This was change from my usual books, but I really enjoyed it. The gentle pace made for a nice relaxing read on a train. However the twists were certainly there and even though you feel you know most of the story by the time you are halfway through there is still so much that is unknown you just have to carry on. I really liked the fact that everytime I thought I had a handle on who was good and who was bad something else became clear and thoughts changed.

It’s hard to say more without giving away the plot, but suffice to say for me the ending was perfect. I would thoroughly recommend Sunburn especially if like me you enjoy reading a strong female lead in a very compelling story.

Sunburn is available here

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.

SUNBURN_blog tour (1)


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Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell – an extract BLOG TOUR

Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell tells the story of Emma. She was abused by her teacher when young, eventually killing him and burying him in the garden. Unfortunately her husband has now got a new job and they have to move, meaning her secret is about to be discovered.

Silent Victim silent victimwas a superb read that kept me gripped to the end. The story is told not only from the point of view of Emma, but also her husband Alex and Luke the ‘victim’. The chapters from each characters point of view slip between present and past as we learn about the crime and its consequences. I am a fan of an unreliable narrator and this certainly has that. Whilst you clearly want to feel sorry for Emma it is not always easy. As a child she struggled with an ailing father and a deep sense of isolation which makes her incredibly vulnerable. Yet the grown up Emma is harder to like and I found some of her actions incredibly frustrating. Those chapters where we hear from Luke as her teacher make for uncomfortable reading at times and I felt that the story tackled the issues of both abuse and eating disorders very well.

This was a good quick read that I really enjoyed. This is the first of Caroline’s novels that I have read however she has an impressive back catalogue of crime fiction. If they are all as good as this one I can’t wait to delve into them.

Read on for an extract from Silent Victim.



Betrayal had a smell, it would be that of tar – the kind that sticks to your shoes in the heat of midsummer and bubbles like a living thing on the road. Emma and I had offered each other weary smiles as we pretended everything was all right. I had shrugged off her concerns that someone had invaded our home, tapping on the window while I was away. She must have imagined it. How could this be possible, when Luke had been in the pub with me that night? I felt sick at the thought – and at the prospect of what I was about to do. Involving our son in our troubles was the last thing I wanted, but I desperately needed to know the truth. Jamie squealed with delight as I lifted him in the air, pretending to drop him, only to take him in my arms again. I inhaled the scent of liquorice shoelaces on his breath, allowed only on the condition that he brush his teeth afterwards. Plopping him on our bathroom counter, I wore my best smile. I had locked the door. Emma would be horrified if she knew what I was about to do. But then how many times had she visited our little bathroom to force herself to vomit when she had eaten just minutes before? The scent of lemon bleach and floral air freshener gave her away every time. If only the rest of her secrets were as easily deciphered. Reaching across the counter, I carried out my own form of betrayal.

Click here to purchase Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell

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While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt – a review

I was recently sent a copy of this from the publisher. When I’d originally agreed to read it the name hadn’t rung any bells. So it wasn’t until I received a copy of the book that it clicked Stephanie Merritt was SJ Parris, an author who I had had the pleasure of joining for dinner a few years ago at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

It begins, they say, with a woman screaming… Well in the case of While You Sleep in begins with Zoe arriving on a remote Scottish island from America. She wants to get away from her marriage and is hoping that some time away from everything will help restart her painting career. However things within the house are not as peaceful as she hopes. She starts hearing singing and ghostly happenings, which gets worse as she starts to learn more about the spooky history of the McBride house.

This was a really intriguing story that certainly kept my interest even though I’m not usually a fan of supernatural twists. However to me the supernatural element was very small and almost felt like an extra element rather than a way of making unbelievable things happen as can often be the case.

I have recently read a few novels that use a similar plot device (which I can’t say as I don’t want to give anything away) so I did guess partly one of the big twists. Yet this didn’t spoil my enjoyment in anyway.

I must confess to finding the sex scenes all a bit gratutuous, I understand the reasoning behind them in order to build up the suspense. Yet for me personally they just felt a bit at odds with the rest of the book. However the rest of the novel more than made up for it. The setting of this novel on a small remote island is incredibly evocative. The descriptions are suitably earie evoking the feeling of claustrophobia and isolation that is heightened by our main character arriving from America and settling into a place that is so different from where she has come from.

This is great story that keeps you interested until the end. I would recommend it to anyone who likes stories where the place plays as big a part as the characters.  

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The Book Case

So Tuesday was my first trip out with Bookcase For All. For those who don’t know the idea is that we provide books for the homeless and vulnerable in York. When people think of the city of York they think of historical buildings, great tourist attractions, and for those of us of a certain age the Blue Peter competition to design a boss for the ceiling of York Minster. Whilst there is no denying that York is a beautiful place and we are very lucky to live here, like most places there are those who are struggling with the high cost of living, and with life in general. York has a high population of homeless and it seems like this is a problem that is just getting worse.

One good thing however is that there are some fantastic organisations within York providing essential items to people in need. The Lunar Project concentrates of period poverty and provides an outreach service twice a week, as well as providing boxes of towels and tampons in schools. Another excellent project around is Kitchen for Everyone York (KEY). They provide a hot meal on a Tuesday night as well as a cooked breakfast on a Sunday. Mr F can sometimes be found cooking sausages and bacon at KEY on a weekend (which is great for me as it means he’s not stinking out my kitchen frying it!)

One idea that had been brewing with me for a while was the idea of providing books for those who would like them. You often see people on the streets quietly minding their own business reading a book. As someone who reads a lot it bothered me that not everyone can afford to buy books, and whilst I am a huge fan of the library, without an address you can’t get a library card. Having done a bit of research there was no specific place I could donate books to try and reach vulnerable people. Therefore the idea for Bookcase For All (BFA) was born, and thanks to KEY a venue was offered to trial.

Everyone warned me not to get too disappointed if I didn’t get any takers to start with, it takes time to build up trust with people. However, my first outing was a huge success with over ten books taken and lots of requests for different genres and themes. What struck me both at BFA and when I went out with the Lunar Project, is the absolute lack of greed of people with nothing. When we were out offering hot drinks, alongside socks and gloves people were only taking items if they needed them. At BFA anyone who came up to chat was told to take anything they wanted from my pile of books, yet people were not just grabbing anything. They were picking up, and looking and choosing just like a proper library.

The other thing that surprised me and really shouldn’t have is that readers are all similar no matter what their home life. They all love books. They love to talk about books – what they have read, what they would like to read, what they are currently reading. People who like to read all like to talk about what they read.

However, the big thing I noticed is how narrow my own reading choices are.  As you know I read crime fiction, therefore 99% of the books I own are crime fiction. Therefore all of the books that I had for my first BFA were crime fiction. To me this didn’t seem to be a problem, yet apparently there are some weird people out there who don’t read crime fiction. Luckily I was saved by a donation from a friend which meant I had a much more eclectic mix of books to offer.

What it has taught me though is I’m definitely going to need a better source of books than just my own bookshelves, so if anyone is in York and has any books they could donate do let me know.

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A Gallery of the Dead by Chris Carter – Q & A BLOG TOUR

I am delighted to welcome Chris Carter to acrimereadersblog today. Although I had of course heard of Chris, for some reason I hadn’t actually read any of his books. Therefore when I was invited onto his blog tour I jumped at the chance to discover someone new to me, and I can’t believe it has taken me so long. Gallery of the Dead is a chilling read about a serial killer who seemingly kills people at random. Each scene is played out in all it’s gruesome glory with some truly disturbing images. Yet there are also elements of humour and social interaction between the FBI and the local police that provide some welcome distraction from the murders. This is an excellent read that I would thoroughly recommend to those of you who like your crime fiction definitely hard boiled.

Welcome Chris and thank you for joining me. Gallery of the Dead is your 9th novel I believe all featuring Robert Hunter. Where did you get the inspiration for Robert?

Well, since I was writing a crime thriller, it was obvious that I needed a detective, so I just created one out of the blue.  At first, there wasn’t much thought put into his character.  I just created a detective that I thought would work.

Most people don’t know this, but my first novel – The Crucifix Killer – was supposed to be a stand-alone.  The original story didn’t end very well for Hunter and Garcia.  It was my agent who suggested that I made Hunter into a series character.  In our first meeting he told that he loved my story, but my ending didn’t work.  We discussed a whole spectrum of possibilities and I ended up re-writing the last twelve chapters of the book to move Hunter from a one-off character to a series one.

Do you still like your main character or ever think about killing him off so you can write about someone else?

I actually really enjoy writing Hunter stories, so much so that I actually miss the character when I an in between books.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No, not ever.  The truth is that I had never planned on writing a book.  I never thought about a career in writing and I never spent any time thinking up stories or developing characters in my head that I would one day want to write about.  My submersion into the world of books – writing books that is – came out of a dream I had back in 2007.  I didn’t exactly leave music to become a writer.  I had stopped being a professional musician many years before I had the dream that led me to write my first book.

I believe you have had a few varied jobs in your time, other than being a writer obviously, what was your favourite?

Hands down I would have to say being a musician.  I absolutely loved being on stage with a band

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

My typical working day is quite boring, I would say.  I always start my days by reading what I wrote the day before and editing as much as I can.  I will then work all day until I reach my desired target (usually a certain number of words).  Some days I will get there quite quickly, others I will write all the way into the evening before reaching that target.  Some days I spend the entire day just researching something that I would like to include in the novel.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Easy – partying.

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so what are some of your favourite authors?

I know that this will sound quite sad, but for an Author, I read very, very little – around two books a year, if that.  I also don’t have a favourite writer.  Not now.  Way before I decided to write my first novel, I used to love reading Frederick Forsyth.  I guess I still do, he just doesn’t release as many books anymore.

Finally what are you working on next?

I am already working on my next novel.  I usually only take around one month off between books

Well I shall look forward to that, in the meantime I will definitely try and catch up on the previous adventures of Robert Hunter. Thanks very much for joining me Chris.

Pre-order Gallery of the Dead from amazon


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Veronica’s Bird – Guest post BLOG TOUR

 Today I am delighted to welcome Richard Newman to acrimereadersblog. He is a ‘ghost’ writer and among others he has written Veronica’s Bird, the true life story of Veronica Bird who became the Governor of Armley Prison. 

Veronica’s Bird is a fascinating tale of a woman’s rise from a tiny house in Barnsley. Abused by her brother in law, she ran away and joined the prison service. Showing her determination she turned around her first posting within a year, she then went on to be honoured by the Queen and even got asked to help improve conditions in Russian Prisons. This is a remarkable story that is told with a warmth and humour that belies the struggles that Veronica had to go through.

So Richard when did you know you were going to be a writer?

The first smidgen of an idea that I thought writing might be for me, other than filling in a tax form, was when I was living in the Middle East, some forty years ago. No television worthy of being labelled a programme, the radio in fast Arabic, no bars or theatre…. you get the picture, so I began to explore the idea of writing a faction based upon the love letters found in Ludwig van Beethoven’s desk after he died, a story which fascinated me. It took me twelve and a half years of research (there were 28,000 books and two million articles to consider) so, quite popular then, and, at the end of it all, ‘Crown of Martyrdom’ was born. Born also was a love of writing which caused ‘The Potato Eaters’ and ‘The Horse that screamed’ to follow. I jumped from novels to writing about fascinating, living, people which brought forth ‘A Nun’s Story’ which became a Sunday Times best-seller, and now Veronica’s Bird is to be launched 23rd January 2018. In January I will revert to novels again to finish off ‘Stepping down’ a story of retirement and the traumas which can flow from the decision to retire. After that, well on the stocks, is the story of my life in the Middle East. Life was very funny out there in the Seventies, yet fascinating. This is to be titled ‘Cockroach on my shoulder’.

Can you tell us what a typical day looks like for you? 

My typical day always lies within a well-formed groove, though not groovy if you get what I mean. We (Julia my wife, and I) are usually up by seven a.m.: well, the dog, Crumble, is already letting us know the day has been approved by her. I make breakfast, a serious affair for a serious meal. By 9 a.m. my eyes are straying towards my computer (though I hand-write my novels first) and by two minutes past the hour I’m on the keyboard in my library, surrounded by books and the smell of frying bacon still attached to my hair. At 10.10 I stop to go to a local gym and am back in harness again, if glowing slightly, in an hour. I work until 12.30 when lunch beckons (a light affair) preceded by an Amontillado followed by my turn at the dog walk along the banks of the River Wharfe.

By 2 p.m. I usually take, paragraph by paragraph, that which I have typed up previously and begin to re-write, again by hand, numbering each so they slot in easily later. I may do this 3-4 times, each time refining the words, still marvelling at the English language. By 6p.m. the sun has sneaked behind a rogue sycamore tree; time for a Campari with lots of ice and soda before supper. Television alternates with reading and so to bed at 10 p.m. There’s not the scrap of a night owl about me – I leave such things to my three sons, who are, I believe, experts.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon? 
A perfect afternoon is a summer Sunday afternoon, with, perhaps, eight friends sitting around a lunch table, the beef ribs bare, like oak trees in winter, the crumbs of an apple strudel being removed from the floor by a pink tongue (no, not mine, it belongs to Crumble) and just listening to my farmer friends discussing the amount of barley they have harvested or hear the pride as they talk about a new bull ‘….down in ‘ter field.’ Beef is very rare; Cliquot very cold, conversation crackling like a log fire in January.

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

For all my reading, I alternate each time between fiction and biography. Morris West has been read to death with such masters as The Devil’s Disciple. Running my eyes down the shelving in front of me I see a good old-timer – I have 17 books by him – Nevil Shute (being of that age I am still disturbed by ‘On the beach’), Kazuo Ishiguro, of course and then a whole series of stories of Carol Drinkwater’s Olive Farm. Alan Bennet: anything he writes is a natural if you live in Yorkshire and Boris Johnson to raise a smile. Michael Connelly’s plots are extraordinary and to contrast this, I will top up from time to time with any of the Russian classics. I had such a good translation of War and Peace in a two-volume paperback, I had it bound in leather!

Veronica Bird does not write at all; she issues the stories to me, I take them down and she approves. A typical day for her is to give a talk somewhere in the north of England. So much in demand is she, for her stories of life in Russian prisons, that she is already fully booked for June next year. She talks for an hour, exactly, without notes and has the ability to change the subject of her talks if required on a re-booking. No, one day though can be called typical for she is so busy with so many differing diary commitments, retaining her life-long interest in the prison service. She has a love of gardening and a large garden to maintain, friends to entertain and a commitment to see that as many people as possible read her story.

Thanks so much for joining me Richard. Veronica’s Bird is available now:

Amazon UK


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I’ll Keep You Safe by Peter May – Giveaway – BLOG TOUR

A few years ago Peter May was appearing at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and in preparation I read The Blackhouse, the first in his Lewis series. I really enjoyed this and went on to read the others in the trilogy. So when I was invited to take part in the blog tour for his latest I jumped at the chance, and I was very glad I did. Read on for a chance to win your own copy of Peter May’s latest novel.

I’ll Keep You Safe is about husband and wife team Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane who co-own a tweed making company on the Isle of Lewis. On a trip to Paris she learns that her husband is having an affair, just before she witnesses the pair being killed by a car bomb. The police rule out terrorism, so Niamh is allowed to return to the island with her husband’s body. French Detective Sylvie Braque is then sent to the Island to try and uncover the killer.

This was a fantastic novel that I read over a few days. Although it starts off in Paris, the majority of the story is set in the Hebrides. It weaves (pun intended) through Niamh returning home and negotiating the funeral, Sylvie’s investigation into the murder, and through flashbacks we are told the story of Ranish tweed and Niamh’s and Ruairidh’s relationship.

I was absolutely fascinated by this book. It hooked me in right from the start. I have to admit that it wasn’t the story I was expecting. I had assumed the focus would be in Paris and would concentrate on the investigation but there was so much more to it. This was a superbly atmospheric book. The isolation and brutality of the islands shone through, yet behind this there was the warmth of a community place that was surrounded by incredible beauty.

The story itself was good and I enjoyed learning about life on the island, and about tweed making. Yet the real pleasure of this novel is in the place and the writing. I would recommend this to anyone who likes being immersed in a setting. 

If you would like to own your own copy of Peter May’s I’ll Keep You Safe then either comment on the blog, or enter via twitter and Midas PR will send one lucky winner their very own copy!

Don’t forget to visit other stops on this fantastic tour:



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